Fair
The Best Worst-Case Scenario


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nathaniel Fritz USER (17 Reviews)
November 8th, 2007 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Don’t take the bland and boring moniker seriously; Fair is much better than its name.

If you’re familiar with the bands of Tooth & Nail Records, chances are you are also familiar with Seattle producer Aaron Sprinkle – you probably just don’t know it yet, unless you’re a liner notes junkie. Having helmed scores of T&N records from the likes of Anberlin, Demon Hunter, Emery, The Almost, MxPx, and Project 86, as well as credits on records from Gatsbys American Dream, Eisley, and Acceptance, Sprinkle has been one of the more underrated producers in the indie scene for a few years now. Prior to forming the alternative rock act Fair, however, his production tendencies had seemed at odds with his own previous solo material and bands, Poor Old Lu and Rose Blossom Punch. Where Sprinkle the artist seemed to prefer sparse and raw production, Sprinkle the producer gained a reputation for creating big walls of sound that gleamed with a glossy finish – but occasionally seemed soulless.

His latest project, Fair, is certainly slickly and expertly handled – you would expect nothing less from a guy whose name seems to appear on the back cover of every third album at Best Buy – but on The Best Worst-Case Scenario, Sprinkle avoids unnecessary bells-and-whistles that would threaten to detract from a beautiful yet bittersweet musical landscape. And, really, no studio magic is needed here, because Sprinkle again shows his gift for writing seemingly laid-back melodies that nonetheless capture the listener’s attention. Though it be docile, The Best Worst-Case Scenario’s best moments are far more interesting and rewarding than run-of-the-mill angst-ridden bands of the present.

Drawing inspiration from the intermittently beautiful-and-depressing Pacific Northwest, Fair could be best be described as a streamlined version of The Decemberists or The Shins. The Best Worst-Case Scenario lacks the former’s penchant for folksy storytelling and you probably won’t overhear Natalie Portman tell Zach Braff that Fair will change your life. Like The Shins and The Decemberists, however, Sprinkle and Co. craft melodies that manage to find the underlying sadness/uncertainty in an optimistic situation or the glimmer of hope in trying times. Fair is able to achieve this multi-faceted nature without coming off as heavy-handed or overly earnest; the moodiness of the album all seems very natural and honest.

The beauty of The Best Worst-Case Scenario lies in its simplicity – some bands effectively stir emotion in the listener through chaotic riffing and desperate vocals, but Fair is able to get their point across in subdued tones and straightforward melodies. The simple two-note melody of “The Attic” and Sprinkle’s laid-back chorus of “Don’t leave me behind, don’t leave me alone; for I just may recall what brought me here” doesn’t quite stir an adrenaline rush, but it is nonetheless surprisingly powerful. And even without heavy distortion or awe-inspiring technicality, Sprinkle’s piercing guitar, such as on “The Dumbfound Game” and “Pause,” strikes a deep emotional chord.

All the while, Sprinkle’s vocals are calm and in control, yet also hint at lingering emotions underneath. While some tracks on The Best Worst-Case Scenario fail to stir any sentiment (“Get You Out Alive”), for the most part, the album’s less-is-more philosophy works very well. Perhaps the only legitimate complaint with the album is that Fair seems capable of producing a masterwork; and The Best Worst-Case Scenario, consisting mostly of 3 ½ to 4 minute singles, never appears to have that goal in mind.

But what The Best Worst-Case Scenario does accomplish, however, is impressive in and of itself. Through a clean and unpretentious alternative rock soundtrack, Aaron Sprinkle and Fair have created a moving album about the complexities of everyday human life. Don’t take the bland and boring moniker seriously; Fair is much better than its name.

Recommended tracks:

Monday

The Attic

The Dumbfound Game

Blurry Eyed



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
November 8th 2007


16117 Comments


I like the irony of you referring to a bunch of albums on Tooth and Nail as "Soulless"... good review too.This Message Edited On 11.08.07

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roofi
November 8th 2007


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, I made lulz and I didn't even know it!

mynameis6
November 9th 2007


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ive been a fan of aaron sprinkles work, from performing to producing, and he just seems to have that spark which lights the fuse to good music, his voice and music go together so beautifully. great album, hope to here more!

roofi
November 10th 2007


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They're supposedly recording a new album now, so hopefully that will come out in the not-too-distant future. Pretty freaking good band.This Message Edited On 11.13.07

mynameis6
November 21st 2007


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

aaron sprinkle never seizes to amaze me, big fan of him and this is album is amazing.

ninjuice
November 27th 2007


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I could have seen this band play at my college (for free!) and I didn't go. Listening to them now makes me wish I had. This is some great music.
And good review.This Message Edited On 11.27.07

dazedandbemused
November 27th 2007


11 Comments


MAN I'm soo glad someone finally did a review of this album I've been waiting almost a year. I'm actually wearing a sweatshirt of this band. I ordered a CD a while back and a month or so later i got a box with a sweatshirt, stickers and pins.. but no CD! haha its all good though, great band. I'm suprised carelessness isnt on the recommended tracks though.

roofi
November 27th 2007


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I could have seen this band play at my college (for free!) and I didn't go. Listening to them now makes me wish I had. This is some great music.
And good review.

Thanks for the kudos. These guys don't tour much, I would have killed to have seen them.
I'm suprised carelessness isnt on the recommended tracks though.

Carelessness is sort of blah to me. It's alright, but Monday and The Dumbfound Game are better songs that are along the same lines.

ninjuice
December 4th 2007


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally picked this up yesterday, and certainly satisfied with my purchase. Normally I'd never rate something this simplistic as a 4, but everything about this album says simple yet beautiful: the vocals, the lyrics, the guitars and the lush melodies.
There are a couple tracks that seemed 'meh' but they'll likely grow on me. Again, good review.

roofi
December 4th 2007


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks and your thoughts are pretty much the same as mine on this album. Which, let's face it, doesn't happen very often.

ninjuice
December 4th 2007


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha that's true.

I forgot to mention the pianos on certain tracks, they're another plus.

AlexTM510
August 28th 2009


1404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally giving this a listen

Very enjoyable. Very cool stuff



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SadAndHolyGlow
June 14th 2012


1531 Comments


THANK YOU for mentioning Sprinkle's tendency to overproduce albums! It quite annoys me how he does it (Anberlin is the best example).

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